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Brass Tacks and Kashmir: India-Pakistan Military Crises in the 1980s

A crisis between India and Pakistan erupted between November 1986 and March 1987 after India launched the largest-ever military exercise in the subcontinent, called Operation Brass Tacks. The exercise took place in the desert area of Rajasthan, a few hundred miles from the Pakistani border, and included nine infantry, three mechanized, three armored and one […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, Post-Colonialism, South Central Asia Tagged |
The Day the Fountain Ran Dry: An Indian Duck Tale

As a Foreign Service Officer serving abroad, it is natural to become close friends with the colleagues with whom you share embassy offices; in many cases, they get to be like your family away from home. In the same way, any creatures which happen to be resident in diplomatic spaces become like family pets. As […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Foreign Service, Humorous, South Central Asia Tagged , , , |
Trouble in the Mountains: The Sino-Indian War, 1962

When two powerful countries cannot agree on the location of their shared borders, there is trouble. Such was the case with China and India in October 1962. China and India had long disputed ownership of the Aksai Chin, a mountain pass that connects Tibet to China’s Xinjiang province on the western side.  On the eastern […]

Posted in China, Military, Russia/Soviet Union Tagged |
Diplomacy Despite It All – Kissinger’s India Fix

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited India October 28, 1974 to discuss its nonalignment policy, which aimed at preserving India’s post-colonial freedom through refusal to join any coalition, including the U.S. or Soviet blocs. Relations between New Delhi and Washington were anything but cordial at this time. The 1971 refusal of Nixon and Kissinger to […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Cold War, Humorous, South Central Asia Tagged , , |
The NPT and the Aftermath of India’s Nuclear Test — May 1974

Operation Smiling Buddha was the assigned code name for India’s first nuclear weapons explosion on May 18th, 1974. India declared that this test was simply a “peaceful nuclear explosion” or PNE, yet it was later discovered that this was actually a part of a nuclear weapons program. The sharp backlash by the international community  stemmed […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, South Central Asia Tagged , , , , |
India and Pakistan on the Brink: The 1998 Nuclear Tests

In May 1998, India conducted its first nuclear bomb tests since 1974 at the Indian Army Pokhran Test Range. Known as Pokhran-II, the tests involved five detonations and were followed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declaring India a full nuclear state. India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come to power in the 1998 elections […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, South Central Asia Tagged , |
The Question of Puerto Rico: The U.S. Faces International Criticism in the Late 20th Century

As decolonization was embraced on the world stage, the U.S. government and its diplomats had to decide, “How do we deal with the question of Puerto Rico?” The island had been an “organized but unincorporated” American territory since the United States defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. After negotiations between Puerto Rican political leaders and […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
“Encouraging” Soviet Workmen in 1984—Vodka, Cigarettes, and Snow Plowing in Soviet Russia

The currency of Soviet Russia was the ruble—or was it? When General Services Officer Robert Weisberg was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1984, he found out first-hand that things sometimes get done a little faster with a few cartons of cigarettes and bottles of vodka. In a winter with heavy snowfall, it […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
“She’s Not a Woman, She’s a Diplomat”—Navigating Saudi Arabia in the 1980s

A car full of armed guards trailed after Janice Bay as she defiantly walked down the gate-lined road away from the car and driver who had refused to take her any further. She had an appointment with the military general in charge of civil aviation, and they were not going to stop her from meeting […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
“A Special Place in My Heart:” Memories of USAID in Vietnam

Images of the U.S. military in Vietnam are part of the American consciousness. But these images are only part of the story.  Often the lives and sacrifices of USAID workers are overlooked. They too made great contributions, joining with military personnel to deliver supplies to locals, promoting development in dangerous areas, and working with hamlet […]

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